Rubem Alves provides a reflection on hope, especially apt in the face of the world's troubles and in this season of Advent preparing for the hope Christmas brings. Today's Pause for Prayer follows below.
What is hope?
It is the presentiment
that imagination is more real
and reality is less real
than it looks.
Hope is the hunch
that the overwhelming brutality of facts
that oppress and repress us
is not the last word.
It is the suspicion that reality is more complex
than the realists want us to believe -
that the frontiers of the possible
are not determined by the limits of the actual -
and in a miraculous and unexplained way,
life is opening up creative events
which will open the way
to freedom and resurrection.
But the two – suffering and hope –
must live from each other.
Suffering without hope
produces resentment and despair.
But, hope without suffering
creates illusions, naivete and drunkenness.
So let us plant dates -
even though we who plant them will never eat them.*
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
That is the secret discipline.
It is the refusal to let our creative act
be dissolved by our need for immediate sense experience
and it is a struggled commitment
to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined hope
is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints,
the courage to die for the future they envisage.
They make their own bodies
the seed of their highest hopes.
- Rubem Alves
*It takes 15 years or more for a date tree to bear fruit.
Let's pause for prayer...
Lord, I'm so easily weighed down
by my struggles, burdens,
and the harsh realities of daily life...
Sometimes, I think I'll lose hope
in you, in others, in tomorrow
and in myself...
So I need you to help me see
that the peace I imagine,
the peace I pray for,
the peace you promise,
has power over all my problems...
Help me trust that my future
is not limited by my present trials;
that the troubles of the moment
will not have the last word;
and that my burdens are a prelude to joy...
Give me hope while I suffer
for that's the path of your love
and let my hope never forget the suffering
of which it was born...
Show me, Lord, how today's troubles
prepare me for the advent of your peace
and the gift of your grace...
O come, Emmanuel:
be with me
and be my hope!
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